Sverre Bjertnaes: Silent Conditions

In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
In situ image courtesy of Damian Griffiths (2017)
'Sculpture by the Sea II' (2017), oil on canvas, 180x90cm
Silent Conditions (2017), oil on canvas, 200x160cm
The Drowning (2017), oil on canvas, 180x120cm *collaboration with Christer Glein
James Legg Assembly (2017), silk screen and oil on canvas, 140x100cm
'Sculpture by the Sea I' (2017), oil on canvas, 200x130cm
Untitled [w. Bjarne Melgaard] (2017), hand coloured silk screen (framed), 145x105cm
'Baptism' (2017), oil on canvas, 160x120cm
Her (2017), oil on canvas, 50x40cm
Ghost Garden II (2017), oil on canvas, 50x70cm
Profil (2017), oil on canvas, 140x100cm
Forrest Recedes (2016), bronze, 83x58x45cm (Ed. 1/6)
Untitled (Kjeramikk) (2016), painted ceramics, 76x34x34cm
Untitled (2014), bronze, 97x128x54cm (Ed. 4/6)
My Years As Dog (2015), patinated bronze, 62x140x35cm (Ed./2)
 
Sverre Bjertnaes: Silent Conditions 
Private View: Thursday 25 May 6-8pm
Exhibition 26 May - 1 July 2017 
 
Beers London presents ‘Silent Conditions’, the first-ever UK exhibition from the much-celebrated Norwegian artist Sverre Bjertnæs. In recent years, Bjertnæs has become one of the country's most renowned painters, the result of much publicised, high profile exhibitions in the US and critically regarded installations of his work at The Armory New York in both 2017 and 2016. Silent Conditions includes collaborations with internationally celebrated artist Bjarne Melgaard; as well as collaborations with artists Christer Glein and writer Arne Lygre.  

Bjertnæs continues developing an overarching grand-narrative though his work, in which each exhibition functions as a kind of gesamtkunstwerk – an art that makes use of multiple forms to deliver a message. Bjertnæs claims he has "grown more and more interested in the narrative that consists between different pieces in a show", as well as between each show itself. Silent Conditions transforms the gallery space into a Wunderkammer-like collection of works - including video, sculpture, furniture, and paintings. 

The exhibition includes the film ‘Memories of Us’, a collaboration with Norwegian Lygre, which typifies the kind of collaborative discourse that typifies Bjertnæs' practice in recent years. The film is a documentation of a performance by Lyre, which itself was inspired by a sculpture Bjertnæs previously exhibited with Galleri Bandstrup, Oslo, in 2016. The exhibition also includes a carpet made by Bjertnæs, featuring  ceramics made along with his own mother. In both his collaborations with Glein and Melgaard, the artists worked interchangeably upon the same painting. This sense of relinquished authorship marks a continued change in Sverre’s approach to art-making, and here it a formative characteristic of the exhibition. 

Apart from these conceptually related works, we also see a painter who is keen to continuously re-establish his practice and present viewer's with stylistic surprises throughout. Paintings reference sculpture in Paintings include ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ (I and II), which appear to be painterly recordings of a (real or imagined) sculptural form. ‘Baptism’ feels like a combination of styles and paintings - not unlike collage - into a sort of surrealist dreamscape. Bjertnæs’ explorations into figurative abstraction, wherein organic figures, often somewhat creature-like in their appearance, reside in landscapes littered with geometric shapes and forms. There is a tendency toward emotional, naturalistic responses to self and nature - recalling the vivid literary landscapes of another famous Norwegian, playright Henrik Ibsen, whose Romantic, vaguely religious, and almost tortured visions seem to cast a strong shadow over each of Bjertnæs' works. But for Bjertnæs, the paintings grow organically, throughout the image-making process, sometimes stemming from loose thoughts arriving from another artwork or personal experience. "I’ve started to believe in a more emotional and intuitive approach to art," he says, "for me, it’s the only way [we] can truly connect to any artwork."